Credit Card Review: The British Airways American Express Credit Card From Amex UK
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British Airways’ Executive Club is probably the largest and most well-known airline loyalty program in the United Kingdom. One of the easiest and quickest ways to collect Avios, the currency of Executive Club, is with a British Airways-branded American Express credit card.
Who Is This Card For?
The British Airways American Express Credit Card is a ‘base level’ card designed for people who want to start out on collecting Avios, the currency of the British Airways Executive Club. This card is also for those who already fly British Airways or its Oneworld partners and want to boost their Avios balance through everyday spending.
There is no minimum income requirement to be approved for this card. However, if you already hold an American Express card in the UK, be sure to note the new restrictions on welcome bonuses.
Welcome Bonus and Annual Fee
As a base level card, it has no annual fee. And even with its bare bones structuring, it still provides a welcome bonus of 5,000 Avios after spending £1,000 in the first three months of card membership. Based on TPG’s current valuation of Avios, that welcome bonus — if you’re eligible — is worth around £60.
This credit card has a representative APR of 22.9% variable and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.
You will receive 1 Avios per £1 spent on purchases. Unfortunately, no bonus Avios are earned for spending directly with British Airways. Additionally, the card charges a 2.99% foreign exchange fee, which is more than the value of the Avios it would earn for these purchases. Because of the foreign transaction fee, it might be best to keep this card in your wallet when traveling internationally or making a non-Sterling purchase.
Read our complete guide to redeeming Avios very soon.
The biggest perk of this credit card — aside from the welcome bonus and lack of annual fee — is the 2-for-1 Companion Voucher. The Companion Voucher is one of the most valuable — and detailed — benefits for British Airways flyers. In short, once you’ve got one of the Vouchers, you can take a companion with you on the same flight and in the same cabin when you redeem Avios for a BA reward flight. Of course, taxes, fees and other carrier charges still apply to the companion. You’ll earn the prized 2-for-1 Companion Voucher after spending £20,000 each calendar year with this card. The voucher when earned with this card is valid is for one year. (Stay tuned for a separate 2-for-1 Companion Voucher guide.)
In addition to the 2-for-1 Companion Voucher, the basic British Airways Amex Credit Card also comes with several other perks. For example, cardholders get refund protection and purchase protection. For the refund protection, eligible items that were purchased with the card in the UK are covered for 90 days. The insurance covers up to £200 to refund or replace the item so long as the retailer won’t do the same.
For the purchase protection benefit, eligible items stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchasing with the card will be covered. The protection to repair or replace the purchase is covered to £2,500 per item.
The card’s travel accident insurance covers up to £75,000 for the accidental death or accident resulting in the complete loss or permanent loss of use of limb, sight, speech or hearing while traveling in a public vehicle. In order to be eligible, the ticket must have been purchased with the British Airways Amex Credit Card.
You can find the full terms of what’s covered with the insurances on the Amex website (PDF).
Keep in mind that some of these benefits, such as the insurances, are subject to enrollment.
Finally, you can opt to have free supplementary cards for any close family and friends in order to maximise your return on the card. But remember you, as the primary cardholder, will still be responsible for paying the balance each month.
Which Cards Compete With This Card?
The premium version of this card, the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card from American Express UK, does have an annual fee but comes with a larger welcome bonus and earns more Avios per pound spent. Plus, with its preferential earning structure, that card earns bonus Avios for spending with British Airways directly.
But the most important difference is that you’ll earn the lucrative 2-for-1 Companion Voucher after spending only £10,000 on the Premium Plus credit card versus £20,000 on this basic card. Additionally, the Premium Plus Card gives a longer voucher validity period of 24 months, rather than 12 months with the base level card. Even with the annual fee, the Premium Plus Card remains a very valuable overall credit card offer, and for that reason, it’s one we regularly talk about here at TPG UK.
If you are planning to spend £10,000 on a British Airways American Express credit card in your card membership year you may wish to consider the Premium Plus card instead of this ‘base level’ option, as it’ll trigger the 2-for-1 Companion Voucher much sooner.
This is a decent offering for an American Express credit card with no annual fee. Its earning rate is simple and American Express is accepted at a large number of retailers in the UK, making it easier to earn valuable British Airways Avios to be used on your next redemption.
It may be difficult to calculate exactly how much you are likely to spend on any card in advance, but if you plan to spend more than £10,000 each year — less than £900 a month — you may wish to consider the BA Premium Plus credit card instead. You can apply for this British Airways Amex credit card here.
Featured photo by John Gribben / The Points Guy.